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Either Co-Sleep or Don't! A half-half approach does not work, here’s why…

When considering whether to bed share AKA co-sleep with your child ask yourself these 3 questions…

  1. When under 12 months old the risk of SIDS is highest, especially when small or premature. This is based on lack of mobility to escape suffocation risk & potentially unknown physical development factors. There are ways to make bed sharing ‘safer’, but ask yourself why would you risk it when we have great options to nurture our babies while room sharing on separate sleep surfaces?

  2. After 12 months old the SIDS risk is reduced in developmentally normal babies, as long as you follow safe sleep practices as follows:

    • No loose bedding or pillows near the child,

    • Use a firm and flat floor mattress away from the wall,

    • Parents in a side sleeping position to one side of the bed, never place child in the middle ,

    • No one in the room that is unwell or overtired or has taken substances including alcohol or cigarettes,

    • No other children or pets in the bed as this can increase the risk of overheating and suffocation,

    • Tie up long hair and remove all jewellery including teething necklaces,

    • Use a safe sleeping bag with arms out and no hood,

    • Always place baby on their back.

At this point I urge parents to make an informed decision to either co-sleep or not co-sleep.

When we go between independent sleep and co-sleeping on survival mode this is when we see challenges in the quality of our child's sleep and our own. We do not build a good relationship with sleep if we do not have consistency and therefore our children lack security in not knowing what is expected at bedtime. We are essentially starting independent sleep teaching from scratch again every single night after co-sleeping. This only enforces confusion and separation anxiety.

3. If after these considerations you have made the decision to be a co-sleeping family, be prepared for:

  • How will this work if/when another child arrives?

  • How will this impact your marriage or relationship?

  • Making changes if you find you have a wriggly toddler that keeps you up all night,

  • You will likely have to teach self-settling at some point, not all children grow out of co-sleeping and suddenly feel secure to sleep independently.

Often with older children that have co-slept we find they take longer to settle to sleep on their own or wake in the night frequently. The difference is they no longer come to their parent’s room for comfort, so poor sleep can go unnoticed. Try to watch for signs of your pre-teen or teenager having low mood, lack of focus, weight gain, poor school performance, emotionally dysregulated or distant. It could be a sign they are not sleeping well.

Are you a happy co-sleeping family, doing half-half in survival mode or loving independent sleep?

My go to’s for safe sleep practices are:

The Lullaby Trust UK

Red Nose Australia

Note this image illustrates a dangerous co-sleeping set up.

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